After two weeks driving around the French and Italian Alps, we stopped in Annecy for a spot of sightseeing and relaxation. Annecy was perfect for both, being on the serene shores of Lake Annecy and full of historic architecture. One such historic icon is the Palais de l’Isle, a castle in the middle of the Thiou Canal. It was built in the 12th Century as the residence for the Lord of Annecy, but has since been used as a court house, a mint, and lastly a prison, most recently in WWII. Now it is a museum hosting historical displays. Huge wooden doors with ironwork and small crooked steps leading up to the turrets set you back in time, and history oozes out of the old stone walls.
Khongoryn Els, the Singing Sand Dunes, are some of the largest dunes in Mongolia. No trip to the Gobi is complete without a visit to them, and a picture from the top of course! The dunes really do make a sound like a low chanting or hum, an eery sound in the middle of nowhere at night!
The best way to see Komodo National Park is by boat, no doubt about it! There are about 30 tropical islands located in between the east and west mainlands of Nusa Tenggara, and many are unpopulated. These gems are accessed by boat and snorkelling among them is paradise. Komodo NP is part of the Coral Triangle, a marine biodiversity hotspot containing the highest diversity of marine species on Earth, and is even more species-rich than the Amazon rainforest.
This was a typical view for much of our journey from Yakutsk to Magadan; crystal clear rivers, beautiful autumnal forest and piercing blue skies. Camping here was a dream come true. The only thing missing from the picture? We never glimpsed a single wild bear, so synonymous with Siberian wilderness.
Within hours of crossing into Kyrgyzstan, we came across this brilliant sight. A herd of Kyrgyz horses, galloping across the road, with the stunning Alay mountains in the background. What better introduction to a beautiful country?
I rejoined Griff in Munich after a week in the UK, but camp sites are hard to find in the Bavarian capital, especially in winter. He had discovered the town of Landshut just outside Munich, and it had everything we needed – an open campsite, good pubs and good beer! We had fantastic food in front of a cosy fire before walking home through the snow. The peaceful walk back to our tent was just what I needed after a busy day’s travel.
On our way to Bishkek from Osh, we pulled over on a disused road to set up camp for the night. Just as we were about to start dinner, a man appeared seemingly from nowhere. He invited us to join him and his wife for dinner, so we followed him back to his small farm, tucked away in a dip on the hill. His wife appeared from a small hut, no more than a wooden frame covered in cloth and plastic. She was unfazed by her unexpected dinner guests; she just cleared a space for us in the hut and laid out tender cooked beef, homemade yoghurt, bread and honey. After food and lots of tea, it was time to milk the cows. It was fascinating to watch, having never witnessed it before. The milk was warm, and didn’t taste like the pasteurised stuff we get in the shop, but I was glad to try some. It would be left in the roof overnight to settle, and the cream would be skimmed off in the morning and made into yoghurt, which was just amazing with honey and warm bread! We camped in their yard overnight, soothed by the sounds of thunder and murmuring cattle. Simple pleasures with a lovely family.
How we travelled 1000km by freight barge up the Lena River, visited one of the worlds largest and most isolated diamond mines, had the fright of our lives and traversed the Vilyuysk Trackt to reach the coldest city on earth.
While retreating back to Severobaikalsk from the Vitim Bridge, we noticed a knocking noise and an unsettling aroma of exhaust fumes in the cab. Moments later the exhaust noise ramped up and we pulled over immediately. Upon closer inspection Griff discovered the exhaust had sheared off at the manifold and needed urgent attention. Typically we had a stainless steel system installed so not only did we need to find a welder, we needed someone who could weld stainless and more importantly had the gear to do it. (more…)
Kawah Ijen on the east coast of Java is one of a complex of volcanoes, overlooking a turquoise lake full of hydrochloric acid and the location of the phenomenon “Blue Flame”. This is actually the (more…)
While in Indonesia, we chartered a boat with a small group of friends so we could take a trip to the Komodo National Park, home of the infamous dragon! We wandered around Rinca with a guide, looking carefully in the forest to find any of the world’s largest (more…)